Christ has been born for us: come, let us adore him.
Year: B(II). Psalm week: 1. Liturgical Colour: White.
|Other saints: St Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774 - 1821)|
She was born in New York into an Episcopalian family, who ostracized her and left her penniless when she became a Catholic in 1805. She had to leave New York and in 1808-9 she founded a religious community and a school for poor children at Emmitsburg, near Baltimore in Maryland. Mother Seton died in 1821 but the Sisters of Charity continue her work to this day. See the articles in Wikipedia
and the Catholic Encyclopaedia
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
|Second Reading: St Maximus the Confessor (c.580 - 662)|
Beginning life as a civil servant and rising to high office, Maximus saw the light and took monastic vows, at an unknown time and for unknown reasons, at the monastery of Philippicus in Chrysopolis, a city across the Bosporus from Constantinople (later known as Scutari, the modern Turkish city of Üsküdar). In due course he became the abbot there.
When the Persians conquered Anatolia, Maximus was forced to flee to a monastery near Carthage. It was there that he came under the tutelage of Saint Sophronius, and began studying in detail with him the Christological writings of Gregory of Nazianzus and Dionysius the Areopagite. He applied rigorous Aristotelian logic to these writings to make their doctrine clearer, and harder to misunderstand.
The perennial argument in the East over the nature of Christ – whether true God and true man, or just a divinely commanded man-shaped puppet – flared up yet again, and this time both the Emperor and the Patriarch of Constantinople were on the latter side. Maximus taking the side of orthodoxy, he was arrested in Rome in 653, together with Pope Martin I. The Pope was condemned without a trial and died before he could be sent to Constantinople. Maximus was taken there to be tried as a heretic in 658 and was sentenced to four years’ exile. In 662 he was brought back and tried again, and this time his tongue was cut out so that he could no longer speak rebellion and his right hand cut off so that he could no longer write letters. He was exiled to a distant region of the empire, where he died on 13 August of the same year.
The passages from St Maximus which adorn the Office of Readings have nothing of these controversies in them, but are chosen to reflect for us the glory of the light of the events of our redemption.
White is the colour of heaven. Liturgically, it is used to celebrate feasts of the Lord; Christmas and Easter, the great seasons of the Lord; and the saints. Not that you will always see white in church, because if something more splendid, such as gold, is available, that can and should be used instead. We are, after all, celebrating.
In the earliest centuries all vestments were white – the white of baptismal purity and of the robes worn by the armies of the redeemed in the Apocalypse, washed white in the blood of the Lamb. As the Church grew secure enough to be able to plan her liturgy, she began to use colour so that our sense of sight could deepen our experience of the mysteries of salvation, just as incense recruits our sense of smell and music that of hearing. Over the centuries various schemes of colour for feasts and seasons were worked out, and it is only as late as the 19th century that they were harmonized into their present form.
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||Jeremiah 31:7-8 ©|
Shout with joy for Jacob! Hail the chief of nations! Proclaim! Praise! Shout: ‘The Lord has saved his people, the remnant of Israel!’ See, I will bring them back from the land of the North and gather them from the far ends of the earth.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Jeremiah 31:11-12 ©|
For the Lord has ransomed Jacob, rescued him from a hand stronger than his own. They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion, they will throng towards the good things of the Lord.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Zechariah 8:7-8 ©|
The Lord of Hosts says this. Now I am going to save my people from the countries of the East and from the countries of the West. I will bring them back to live inside Jerusalem. They shall be my people and I will be their God in faithfulness and integrity.